The stories in Michael Swanwick’s NOT SO MUCH, SAID THE CAT are wistful and weird

Reviews and recommendations for Michael Swanwick’s recently released collection NOT SO MUCH, SAID THE CAT keep tumbling in.


At THE WASHINGTON POST, Nancy Hightower recommends the collection.

Michael Swanwick shows his extraordinary range in NOT SO MUCH, SAID THE CAT (Tachyon) The 17 stories here blend and bend the science fiction and fantasy genres. “From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled . . .”, a Hugo nominee, is narrated by Rosamund, a space suit A.I. Her lover, Quivera, is sent to an alien city of giant millipedes in an effort to form an alliance. The alien planet is attacked, and Quivera flees with a case he believes is their library, but soon he discovers it holds something even more important. “Goblin Lake” places us at the end of the Thirty Years War in 1646, when a young soldier named Jack discovers the magical world beneath the surface of a lake where people live as self-aware characters in fiction. Jack is given a difficult choice to make: live in messy reality with all of its tragedy and loss, or stay in a fictional one that would grant him eternal life. “The Man in Grey” plays with a similar theme as a young woman is saved from an accidental death only to discover her life is created, in part, by stagehands and props. Swanwick’s stories are wistful and weird, at times tragic yet still hopeful as the mythic and scientific intertwine.


Craig Clark at BOOKLIST praises the book.

Swanwick excels at satisfying conclusions
that cause readers to take pause and consider the actions of the characters. Thoughtful, witty, and, at times,
disturbing, this collection will appeal to those who enjoy short fiction, no matter the genre.


Wow, this man really knows how to write short fiction! Each story is exquisite, the perfect density of plot, carefully crafted, beautifully executed. I love these self contained universes that seem to extend beyond the small glimpse we see here, making me feel like I am both content with that I was given and yet dreaming of reading a full novel.


The author frequently returns to the theme of colonization (which is why some of his fiction reminds of of Bradbury, I think). In quite a few stories, we are either colonizing or have been colonized: we’re either living with the colonists, or being them ourselves, for better or for worse. Not everyone is always happy with the outcome, and sometimes revenge can take years to emerge. I loved how the author presented so many facets of this heavy problem.

All in all, a fantastic collection. Some are more memorable than others, and some will stay with you forever. Definitely a fantastic read.

For more information on NOT SO MUCH, SAID THE CAT, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover design by Elizabeth Story